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HER Number:873
Name:St Mary's Abbey.


Listed Grade I ruins of mainly C.13 of abbey founded in 1215 by the Premonstratensian canons. Also a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SMR12801).

Monument Types

Grid Reference:SO 9760 8279
Map:Show location on Streetmap
Designation:Listed Building (I) 1063731: ST MARY'S ABBEY RUINS, MANOR FARM
Scheduled Monument 12801: Halesowen Abbey and associated water control features


Abbey of Premonstratensian Canons founded: 1215, convent founded: 1218; Order dissolved 1538. <1>

Little remains of Abbey dedicated to Virgin & St. John the Evangelist. Arrangement of original buildings is somewhat conjectured, only frags of church, part of S wall of frater & small building now used as barn SE of claustral block, probably abbot's lodging, still standing. <2><3>

1938 excavation related to road <4>

Founded 1215 for Premonstratensians. The remains are mainly C13 and are disposed about a modern farmhouse. The north wall of the barn embodies part of the south aisle of the church with 2 claustral doorways. Fragments of south transcept and 2 lancets windows. Portions of the south transeptual chapel and north wall of chancel. Substantial wall of refectory with 4 lancets and undercroft. A good detatched shell remains, probably the Abbatial House, C13, with coupled lancets and some C16 lights, and the original timber roof. Another detached but problematic building: Foundations of chapter house. <9>

HALESOWEN ABBEY. The remaining fragments are mixed up with the farm buildings of MANOR FARM, S of Manor Lane. The abbey was Premonstratensian. It was founded by Peter de Roche, Bishop of Winchester, in 1218, and what still stands dates, with one exception, from the years round about 1220-1230. The fragments are as follows: some high walling of the chancel N wall with one lancet window and the springers rib-vaulting; the W wall of the S transept with two lancets and the springers of the vault; also the upper doorway into the former dormitory. A doorway below led no doubt into the vestry. This W wall isontinued to the N by the S jamb of the arch from the former S aisle into the transept. The aisle south wall remainsor quite a stretch. Round the cloistre, the CHAPTER HOUSE in the E range was excavated in 1938. Of the S range, there is one piece up. It belongs to the south wall of the REFECTORY and has small windows below and fine high windows above with deep rere-arches. To the outsid are buttresses. A good deal farther E is an oblong building of the late 13th century along. It was two-storeyed and still has some of its transomed two-light upper windows. It is supposed to represent the abbots house, or it may have been the guest house. Inside set in the wall two MONUMENTS: miniture figure of a C14 Knight with crossed legs, probably made for a heart burial, and a coffin lid of the C13th a kneeling figure in profile below a Crucifix. <18>

Rediscovered Finds from St, Mary’s Abbey, Halesowen

In 1939 Frank Somers, a local iron master and amateur archaeologist began an excavation on the south side of the quire in the abbey church. No report has so far been discovered of his work there but the finds were loaned to the Halesowen Library for a display. When the display came to an end the finds were stored away in a cardboard box in a storeroom.

During the winter of 2009 the Library decided to remove the contents of the storeroom and turn it into a new computer room. It was while clearing the contents out of the room that the librarians found the box with the finds and were perplexed as to what to do with them. As the Borough’s Archaeological Officer had had some dealings with the library in the past they communicated with him and he took them into his care.

The finds comprised:

A Sandstone Column Base

The fragment is only half the base of a column so it is not certain if the original piece was a full circle or a half circle (a pilaster). The bottom of the base is a circular pedestal or plinth. This has been finished but not smoothed off, so perhaps lay beneath the floor(?) It has been broken off so its height is unknown. Above it is a sequence of mouldings. In section; from a narrow hollow (5mm) it leads into a convex roll moulding (45mm) with what can only be construed as a drip gulley running along the top inside edge of it (4mm). A concave mould (cyma reversa) (25mm)then leads into another gulley (3mm deep) and then flows into another convex roll moulding (30mm).

This mould runs onto a flat surface. Mortar runs in a circle around the edge of this surface up to 8mm wide and 5mm high. Most of this surface has been roughly chiselled and the chisel marks are still there. This seems to have been where the shaft of the column stood. As no cement appeared to be anywhere other than the edge of the surface presumably there was an iron dowel in its centre to hold the shaft and base together and the mortar filled in the gap in between. The mortar circle gave a shaft of 8 inches 5/16ths or 210mm in diameter.

Six Medieval Floor Tiles

I. Nearly complete tile with yellow-green glaze 135mm + 136mm +22mm.

2. Patterned encaustic tile. Eight petal daisy-flowers surrounded with a circle, four fleur-de-lys fitting into a diamond frame. A leaf pattern in each of the four corners of the tile. 117mm+122mm +35mm. Glaze still observable in indents of the surface of the tile. An example of this tile is in the British Museum Collection. Eames design number 2443, catalogue number 3610 and its provenance is Halesowen Abbey.

3. Corner of Griffin pattern tile showing the feet and lower body. 75mm+85mm+32mm. Brown glaze on edge, none on surface. An example of this tile is in the British Museum Collection. Eames design number 1863, catalogue number 3967 and its provenance is Halesowen Abbey.

4. Broken part of patterned tile. Four fleur-de-lys joined in a cross pattern with a circle in the centre. A sub-circular ring around them and a circular ring around that, third circles in each corner all in black. Approx 120mm+120mm+25mm. Brown glaze on side and base. An example of this tile is in the British Museum Collection. Eames design number 2520, catalogue number 3632 and its provenance is Halesowen Abbey.

5. Quarter tile (?) triangular in shape. Indiscriminate mixed yellow and light brown colouring. 90mm+85mm+25mm Light brown glaze still on surface.

6. Half tile, Triangular in shape. Yellow colouring over most of tile 130mm+130mm+25mm. Light brown glaze on edge of surface and on edge.

Medieval Window Glass

1. Piece of glass 95mm by 70mm. The piece shows the 'panes' edge with the glass being 'nibbled' along its edge. The decoration shows three grey lines by the edge and three circles 17mm circles with a 5mm inner circle. Two triangular shapes are shown between each of the circles aligned on the outer edge of the circle. A further grey line runs parallel to the edge and two dark thicker lines are next with a yellow colour in between. A curvilinear version of this last item occurs on close to the broken edge of the glass.

2. A triangular piece of glass 75mm by 60mm. The piece shows the corner of a 'pane' being 'nibbled' along its edge. 10mm from both edges is a thick dark coloured line. Internal to the line is a dark coloured circle containing what looks like a daisy head. Between the circle and the lines along the edge is a criss-cross pattern in a dark colour.

3. A piece of glass 55mm by 51mm. The pieces show one edge of a 'pane' being nibbled along its edge. The decoration however suggests it is a corner with a thick white line running along two edges and joining in the corner with a criss-cross pattern over the rest of the piece also in white. A sub circular circle in white lies next to the broken edge approximately 25mm wide with five pellets within it.

D. A piece of glass 8omm by 47mm. This piece shows one edge of the 'pane' being 'nibbled' along its edge. 3mm from the edge is a thick dark line running parallel to the edge. Another dark line runs parallel to the first one at a distance of 5mm. The interior of the glass is unclear.

E. A piece of glass 55mm by 50mm square. The patterning is mostly gone but it does show brown lines flowing across the piece with circle type decorations above and below.


Frank Somers appeared to have been excavating in the area of a side chapel to the main quire. It is probable that these finds came from the same place, if this is so it had a tiled floor, decorated windows and possibly columns or an arcading. If this is the sort of information we get out of just examining the finds, how much more would we recover with a competent excavation of today.
John Hemingway, Archaeological Officer. <20>

Duke Of Rutland’s Excavations at St. Mary’s Abbey, Halesowen

The Duke of Rutland was a tile enthusiast and did minor excavations at the abbey between 1925 -1928 and 1934 -1940. He had removed some tiles from their in situ position in the north-west corner of the chancel in 1934. [Eames p.12] Marsden recorded that apart from the Rutland Collection (British Museum), eight tiles are now in the Holliday Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, six fragments in Halesowen Central Library excavated by Frank Somers [Hemingway 2009] and the case of tiles in this paper at St. John the Baptist Church, Halesowen. [Marsden p. 40/Hemingway, 2009]

Medieval tiles (including 760 tiles from Halesowen Abbey) that are in the British Museum Collection have been studied by Elizabeth Eames and published in 1980. [Eames 1980.]


Worcestershire Archaeological Society Collection

Another 81 Tiles have been recently recorded by Stephen Price in the Collection of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society. (Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, Third Series, Vol. 22, 2010 pp 212-214) These tiles were set in eight wooden trays by Elsie Matley Moore between 1938 and 1940 and had been presented to the Society by Lord Cobham in 1938(?)

These tiles were said to have been found in excavations in 1928 and 1937 on a type written label on the box. As the Duke of Rutland was excavating during this period they seem likely to have been found by him. According to Adrian Durkin (see letter in file) Elsie Matley Moore was introduced to the Duke of Rutland by Lord Cobham and the result was that he allowed her to have some of his seconds. (The main collection went to the British Museum). We thought that Dudley Borough’s Collection were all the tiles there were, but this new collection suggests the better ones were given to the Society. <20>

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SDD78 - Serial: CJ Bond. 1972. West Midlands Archaeology:1972.
[2]SDD222 - Bibliographic reference: A Marsden. 1986. Halesowen Abbey. 22.
[3]SDD1283 - Bibliographic reference: Derek Moscrop. 1993. Landscape Survey of the Fields Surrounding St. Mary's Abbey, Halesowen.
[4]SDD1275 - Bibliographic reference: Iain Ferris. 1990. Building Recording at Halesowen Abbey, 1989/90.
[5]SDD1271 - Bibliographic reference: Andrew P Marsden. 1986. Halesowen Abbey; An historical and Archaeological Assessment..
[6]SDD1264 - Bibliographic reference: Iain Ferris. 1988. Halesowen, Halesowen Abbey (SO 979282).
[7]SDD1229 - Unpublished document: Michael Freer. 2002. E-mail from Hales Owen Abbey Trust.
[8]SDD1063 - List (DoE): The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.. The Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
[9]SDD412 - Bibliographic reference: D Knowles. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses.
[10]SDD1152 - Bibliographic reference: VCH. 1927. VCH; Worcestershire Parish Histories. pp.135-152.
[11]SDD1130 - Bibliographic reference: F Somers. 1938. Transactions of Worcestershire Archaeological Society.
[12]SDD1450 - Bibliographic reference: Richard Cherrington & Malcolm Hislop. 2003. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Manor Farm, Halesowen Abey, Halesowen, West Midlands..
[13]SDD1570 - Bibliographic reference: TNL Evans. 2002. St. Mary's Abbey, Halesowen: A Report on Survey Work..
[14]SDD1571 - Bibliographic reference: Mark Kinsey. 2003. Halesowen Abbey: Geophysical Survey..
[15]SDD1573 - Bibliographic reference: Martin Cook. 2004. Archaeological assessment of part of Halesowen Abbey, Halesowen, West Midlands..
[16]SDD1583 - Bibliographic reference: Kevin Colls & Mary Duncan. 2007. Halesowen Abbey, Halesowen, Dudley; Archaeological Evaluation..
[17]SDD1598 - Bibliographic reference: Alison Arnold, Robert Howard. 2008. Halesowen Abbey, Dudley, West Midlands; Tree Ring Analysis..
[18]SDD1074 - Bibliographic reference: Nikolaus Pevsner. 1951. Buildings of England; Worcestershire.
[19]SDD1606 - Bibliographic reference: Iain Ferris. 1990. Halesowen, The Abbey..
[20]SDD1387 - Unpublished document: John Hemingway. 1984-. Notes on Dudley Borough in various files.